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Issue 18 - Up in smoke

Whisky Magazine Issue 18
September 2001


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Up in smoke

Marcin Miller and friends light up and savour a dozen whiskies and half a dozen cigars

As we are painfully aware, the perception of malt whisky is all too often as the preferred tipple in the fustian world of the gentleman's club. That was also once true of the cigar. Yet with the rise (and decline) of the cigar as status and sex symbol, particularly in the US, distillers want to promote innovative ways of enjoying (i.e. drinking) more whisky.

Whisky is attempting to encroach on other drinks' territory. For example, the dining experience has long been associated with wine: biblical testimonials are hard to beat (now, if Jesus had turned water into whisky...). Hence the laudable efforts of the Classic Malts, among others, in matching food and whisky. Cigar smoking has traditionally been allied to the consumption of cognac and, occasionally, armagnac. Perhaps it is symbolic of the decline in the fortunes of cognac that whisky has been cast in the role of usurper.

But which cigar? With a dram in your hand, your host offers you the humidor. Do you take the biggest one? Ask his advice and appear a novice in a man's world?

As with malt whisky, great cigars vary in style. The objective was to arrive at some recommended combinations of malts and cigars. This is more complex than it sounds: in the same way that a malt whisky will develop in the glass, a lit cigar will develop from beginning to end. Whisky reacts with the atmosphere to the extent that if you return to a sample ten minutes after having intially tasted it you'll find different qualities or the same qu...

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